Archive for health care reform

 

“Rejected” Medicaid Reforms May Resurface

Partial Medicaid expansion, desired by some Republican governors but rejected by the Trump administration last year, may not be so rejected after all.

At least not according to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal Medicaid program.

In a recent interview, Verma said the administration is reconsidering its rejection of partial Medicaid expansion, an idea she supports and that

What I have said to states and to governors [is] “Tell me what you want to do, and it’s my job to help you get to where you want to go.”

To emphasize this point, Verma also said that

We are changing the partnership between the federal and state government.  We are trying to empower states.

Learn more about Verma’s recent remarks about Medicaid expansion in the Politico article “Seema Verma:  Medicaid reform rejected by Trump is ‘under review.’”

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CMS Introduces New Waivers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has introduced four new “state relief and empowerment waivers” that are widely viewed as new vehicles for states to circumvent Affordable Care Act requirements to implement their own new approaches to health care.

  • Through “account-based subsidies” waivers, states may direct public subsidies into defined-contribution, consumer-directed accounts that individuals use to pay for health insurance premiums or other health care expenses.
  • “State-specific premium assistance” waivers enable states to create their own subsidy programs.
  • “Adjusted plan options” authorizes states to provide financial assistance for different types of health insurance plans, including short-term and other health insurance policies that do not meet Affordable Care Act benefits and coverage requirements.
  • “Risk stabilization strategies” waivers give states greater flexibility to implement reinsurance programs or high-risk pools.

These waiver options have been introduced not through regulations but through guidance published in the Federal Register.  States must apply for these waivers, which must meet section 1332 federal standards for  comprehensiveness, affordability, coverage, and federal deficit neutrality.

Learn more about state relief and empowerment waivers in this CMS fact sheet and this guidance that was published in the Federal Register.…

Hospital Government Payment Losses Could Reach $218 Billion by 2028

A recent study concluded that hospitals can expect to lose about $218 billion in federal Medicare and Medicaid payments between 2010, when the latest round of major cuts began, and 2028.

Among those cuts cited in the study, which was commissioned by the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, are:

  • $79 billion for DRG documentation and coding adjustments
  • $73 billion for Medicare sequestration
  • $26 billion for Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH)
  • $11 billion in cuts associated with the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

Other cuts came, or will be coming, through regulatory changes, the introduction of value-based payment programs, and other means.

Learn more about these cuts and their potential implications in this Healthcare Dive story.

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Programs, Not Penalties, Drive Readmission Reductions

Participating in federal value-based payment programs does more to reduce hospital readmissions than penalties levied on hospitals with too many readmissions.

Or so reports a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

According to the study, hospitals that participated in one or more of three Medicare value-based payment programs ­– its meaningful use of electronic health records program, the bundled payment for care initiative, or an accountable care organization (ACO) program – enjoyed bigger decreases in their avoidable Medicare readmissions than hospitals that participated in no such programs but were only subject to financial penalties levied under the Medicare hospital readmissions reduction program.

The study encompassed more than 2800 hospitals.

Learn more about these findings in this Fierce Healthcare article or go here, to the JAMA Internal Medicine web site, for the report “Association Between Hospitals’ Engagement in Value-Based Reforms and Remission Reduction in the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program.”…

Social Determinants and Health Care

Amid growing recognition that social factors play at least much a role in the health of communities as medical care, growing attention is being paid to how best to address those social determinants in a health care system.

With increasing use of alternative delivery models such as accountable care organizations, some approaches place health care at the heart of a hub-and-spoke model to address population health, supported by functions such as affordable housing, home health care, job training, and more. Another approach places community organizations at the hub of care models, with the health care system as a spoke feeding into that hub.

A recent article on the Health Affairs Blog explores the hub-and-spoke approach to addressing the social determinants that play such a major role in population health. Go here to read the blog article “Defining The Health Care System’s Role In Addressing Social Determinants And Population Health.”…